Del Rio City Council members recently approved an ordinance that will allow the city to recover unbudgeted costs related to the COVID-19 crisis.
The council discussed the COVID-19 reimbursements at its special meeting held on June 16.
Councilman Jim DeReus made the motion to approve the ordinance, with Mayor Bruno “Ralphy” Lozano giving the second.
When Lozano asked council members if they had any questions or concerns about the ordinance, Councilman Alfredo “Fred” Carranza Jr. asked, “Do we know what the amounts are or what we’re anticipating in funding for Val Verde County and the city of Del Rio?”
“We know that the total amount that we could use, again, through reimbursement, is almost $2 million. And again, it’s a reimbursement. It only meets certain eligible expenses. We can’t just use the money on anything, but the maximum that’s currently allowed would be a little over $1.9 million,” City Manager Matt Wojnowski said.
“Is that $1.9 million for the city’s part?” Carranza asked.
“Yes,” Wojnowski replied.
“So, about how much have we expended already?” Carranza asked.
“As of June 9, we have noted $112,896.90 (in COVID-19 related expenses),” the city manager replied.
“Now, the CARES Act, it allows for different kinds of help, and there’s rules out there to meet the criteria, is that correct?” Carranza asked.
“Correct,” the city manager said.
“And some of those funds can be used to help small businesses and different things like that?” Carranza asked.
“Correct, and the next item we have on our agenda will cover the program we’re proposing to the council to assist small businesses,” Wojnowski said.
“I have a question regarding these funds. Now, because we’re also going to be talking about hiring someone as a local health authority, but from what I understand from the information in the package, these monies can also be used to pay whoever it is that we hire (as the local health authority),” Councilwoman Diana Bejarano Salgado asked.
“That’s correct. It says, ‘payroll expenses for employees whose services are substantially dedicated to mitigating or responding to COVID-19 public health emergency,’ so (the monies) could be used toward supporting that type of staff,” Wojnowski replied.
DeReus asked the city manager to provide council members with a running update on the city’s COVID-19 expenses as part of his bi-weekly update on city activities.
“Maybe in your biweekly project update, could you give us a running update on how much we have tracked, how much we’ve requested for reimbursement and how much we’ve received?” DeReus asked.
“Yes, we can update it at the regular council meetings,” Wojnowski said.
“I just want to know how much we’re spending,” DeReus added.
The council voted unanimously to approve the ordinance.